Joshua Chapter 1
THE NECESSITY OF STRENGTH, COURAGE AND OBEDIENCE
If you were asked to think of someone with great strength and courage, who would come to mind? Rocky (Sylvestere Stallone), The “Rock” (Dwayne Johnson), George Patton (World War 2 general), Rosa Parks (civil rights pioneer)?
If you were asked to think of someone who lacked courage, perhaps the Lion in the “Wizard of Oz” would come to mind. When we first meet him in the movie, we see the supposed King of the Forest attempting to intimidate the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, Dorothy and her dog. However, after little, sweet Dorothy swats him on the nose it becomes obvious his courage is merely an act. The Lion, who had been so ferocious on the outside, quickly cowers before the girl and begins sobbing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2itQkiQUOE).
Dorothy: My goodness, what a fuss you're making! Well, naturally, when you go around picking on things weaker than you are. Why, you're nothing but a great big coward!
Cowardly Lion: [crying] You're right, I am a coward! I haven't any courage at all. I even scare myself. [sobbing] Look at the circles under my eyes. I haven't slept in weeks!
Tin Man: Why don't you try counting sheep?
Cowardly Lion: That doesn't do any good, I'm afraid of 'em.
Last week in our introduction to the book of Joshua, we learned that the generation of Israelites who escaped slavery from Egypt, then stayed in the wilderness for 40 years before they died off, were short on strength and courage. They were witnesses to God’s miracles performed on their behalf and were glad for them. However, they were quite content to sit back and let Him take care of every difficult situation they found themselves in, as long as it didn’t require much spiritual fortitude on their part. Sure, it was scary walking across the muddy bed of the Red Sea, between two intimidating walls of water. But, with the Egyptian chariots barreling down on them, what choice did they really have?
About one year later, they were told to enter the promised land. However, after the spies returned from their trip through the land, they learned that a powerful and intimidating enemy lie ahead. God wasn’t just going to smite down the enemy from a distance – it was going to take real strength and courage on their part. Their decision to remain on the outskirts of the promised land proved they didn’t have what it took. Perhaps after having spent the previous 400 years in captivity, totally at the mercy of the Egyptians, they weren’t adequately prepared for the battles ahead. Nevertheless, they proved incapable of taking the promised land as God had commanded.
Joshua chapter 1 takes place shortly after the death of that entire generation, including Moses. In this chapter, Joshua is made leader of the surviving generation of Israelites. He has to take up the reigns, as the people were preparing to cross the Jordan river and conquer the promised land. These people are not only going to learn what real strength and courage was, how to obey God in that context, but they were also committed to doing so. Let’s go through the chapter and learn more about these characteristics within the context of spiritual warfare.
1 – SPIRITUAL VICTORY TAKES A GOOD RESUME
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.
A. Joshua had a mentor named Moses
· In Numbers 13:16 we learn that it was Moses who gave Joshua his name. His birth name was, “Hoshea”, which means salvation. Moses changed his name to Joshua, which was a shortened form of Jehoshua that means “Jehovah is salvation” in Hebrew. Joshua was also the name of Jesus in Hebrew.
· Joshua was an attendant of Moses from his youth. Basically the entire time after they left Egypt (Numbers 11:28).
B. Joshua had valuable experience
· He led victory over Amelikites which God directed thru Moses (Ex 17:8-16)
· He went up mount Sinai with Moses (Ex 24:13)
· At age 40 (Joshua 14:7), he was among 12 spies Moses sent out (Num 13) to explore the land.
· He was one of two men to believe God’s promise and wanted to take the land.
2 – SPIRITUAL VICTORY TAKES LEADERSHIP
A. Joshua becomes leader because the people need one.
The process of Joshua becoming leader actually begins before the events in Joshua 1. We learn about this in Numbers and Deuteronomy. Upon learning that his death was imminent and that he wouldn’t lead them into the promised land, Moses asks God to commission a new leader. He knows the importance of having someone who would watch out for the welfare of the people, and help conquer the promised land. Moses doesn’t suggest who the leader should be, he leaves it up to God.
Numbers 27:15-23) 15 Moses said to the Lord, 16 “May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
There is only ONE who doesn’t need a shepherd or savior and that is God himself. Every person and every group, throughout human history needs help of some kind.
B. God appoints a person for the job who is qualified.
Numbers 27:18) 18 So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership,[a] and lay your hand on him.
C. God makes sure everyone knows who the leader would be
Numbers 27:19-23) 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.” 22 Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. 23 Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses.
The manner in which the appoint was made leaves no room for ambiguity or a power struggle.
D. God commissions Joshua directly.
Deuteronomy 31:14-23) 14 The Lord said to Moses, “Now the day of your death is near. Call Joshua and present yourselves at the tent of meeting, where I will commission him.” So Moses and Joshua came and presented themselves at the tent of meeting. 15 Then the Lord appeared at the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the cloud stood over the entrance to the tent.
And now we come to Joshua chapter 1, where Joshua’s first day on the job begins …
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
3 - SPIRITUAL VICTORY TAKES STRENGTH AND COURAGE
When you read the events that lead up to the escape from Egypt, you see there wasn’t a whole lot of time for preparation. It all happened pretty fast. There weren’t people involved in physical and spiritual training with music from the sound-track of “Rocky” blaring over loudspeakers. In Exodus 6, when told of coming escape, there was no exhortation for strength and courage, or to obey God to guarantee success. Basically they were told they’d escape and be given a land of their own. But, they were a spiritually immature group of people. They didn’t believe.
In Exodus 13, after having left Egypt, there are verses about ceremonies and sacrifices to commemorate their escape, but there isn’t evidence about wanting to know God deeply or being committed at the hip with Him. Moses understood the importance of knowing the heart and mind of God, but the people never seemed to. It appears they merely got caught up in the tradition and pageantry, and took God for granted. This is proven by the way they behaved during the Exodus. Every difficult and frightening situation was met with “Agh - What are we going to do?” Every time they needed help, God bailed them out.
In Exodus 33:3, God refers to them as a “stiff-necked” or “stubborn” people. This might be similar to the way oxen sometimes stiffen their necks and refuse to perform the tasks they are intended to perform. These people desired escape, and comfort, but were not prepared for being victorious in spiritual warfare.
This generation who escaped slavery in Egypt was never exhorted to have strength and courage. Not because they already had it, or had great will power…but, because they lacked the kind of strength and courage it would take to conquer the promised land.
On the other hand, the generation who would cross the Jericho river to conquer the promised land was exhorted to have strength and courage. Not because they were cowards or lacked will-power…but, because they had a better grasp of what strength and courage really was.
As we continue in Joshua chapter 1, we are going to see five occurrences of the phrase, “Be strong and courageous”. First, we need to point out these occurrences are not the first time Joshua, or this new generation of Israelites are hearing it. Prior to this point, as Moses is nearing death, the phrase is used three times in Deuteronomy.
A. Moses to Israelites
Deuteronomy 31:1-6) Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: 2 “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ 3 The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the Lord said. 4 And the Lord will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. 5 The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
In this case, Moses uses the phrase in order to reassure the people they would have a leader – Joshua. Also, God’s power would be with them, and they shouldn’t give in to fear like their ancestors did forty years prior. Moses reaffirms the importance of obedience within the context of all the rules/regulations that were put into place and communicated earlier in Deuteronomy.
B. Moses to Joshua
Deuteronomy 31:7-8) 7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
In this case, Moses uses the phrase in order to challenge Joshua and attempt to build him up. Joshua needs to be the leader: facilitating military conquest and granting ownership of the various portions of land. Moses reminds Joshua that God would always be with him.
C. God to Joshua
Deuteronomy 31:23) 23 The Lord gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.”
In this case the phrase was used because Joshua needed to be confident. He was going to be leading a large number of people, he was going into unknown territory, embarking on a military campaign, and was going to be the conduit by which God’s promise would be fulfilled. These were things that Joshua had never done before, and in fact, were responsibilities unlike what any other person would be given, and all this had been 600 years in the making.
And now we come back to Joshua chapter 1 (after Moses has died), where God uses the phrase four more times when addressing Joshua.
6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
This use of the phrase is very similar to the use of it at his commissioning. Surely, Joshua must have been wondering if he was really qualified for the task.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
This use of the phrase was in the context of needing strength and courage in order to remain obedient to God. Joshua’s obedience or disobedience would have a direct impact on his success.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
This use of the phrase in verse 9 was a warning that there would be real fear and potential discouragement. Now, let’s jump ahead to verse 18, for the 4th occurrence of the phrase.
18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”
This use of the phrase was in the context of how Joshua was going to feel, think, or react when others around him were going to fail (remember Moses discouragement and reaction to the sin and complaining around him). In fact, Joshua may even have to give the death sentence to some of the people he is leading.
D. Joshua to the people
Joshua himself uses the phrase when addressing the people later in Joshua 10:22 in an interesting context. After having taken five kings prisoner after battle…
Joshua 10:22) 22 Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me.” 23 So they brought the five kings out of the cave—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon. 24 When they had brought these kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had come with him, “Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks. 25 Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” 26 Then Joshua put the kings to death and exposed their bodies on five poles, and they were left hanging on the poles until evening.
Quite a gruesome picture isn’t it? When it comes to doing away with sin and evil, often the commands of God may seem to be extreme and without compromise. It takes strength and courage in these cases well.
E. Strength and Courage is a command
Let’s go back to Joshua 1:9 and highlight the fact that Joshua was commanded to have strength and courage – it wasn’t a suggestion. Joshua and this generation of people seem to have a better grasp of who God is. They not only know His commands, but they have a desire to know the heart and mind of God. Yes, they have seen His power on display, but they also realize He has set them apart for a unique purpose. God has said He would always be with them, and they really believed it. God has made them a promise that the land would be theirs, and they really believed it. So, the strength and courage they were being command to have wasn’t what we’d categorize as “will-power”. These people were going to act out their faith with their works – by going to war and taking possession of the land. Perhaps, as you think of what happened to their ancestors, James 2:26 – “Faith without works is dead” may come to mind? A true man or woman of God ought to be courageous, because God’s strength will protect and win the victory. If God is for us, who can be against us?
4 – SPIRITUAL VICTORY TAKES TEAMWORK
10 So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’”
A. In these verses we see that Joshua is organized, has a plan, and gets everyone involved. It is not his battle alone.
12 But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13 “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them 15 until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”
(Refer to Promised land map with tribes and note location of Reuben, Gad, and Manassh).
B. Help each other
Joshua reminds the these 3 tribes to follow-through on their promise they made to Moses to help conquer the west side of Jordan river. He holds them accountable, doesn’t lower the bar of expectations. These tribes had originally made the promise to help the other tribes conquer the land west of the Jordan. Only then would they return to their land on the east side of the Jordan and settle there.
Numbers 32) The Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock. 2 So they came to Moses and Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the community, and said, 4 the land the LORD subdued before the people of Israel—are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock. 5 If we have found favor in your eyes,” they said, “let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.” 6 Moses said to the Gadites and Reubenites, “Should your fellow Israelites go to war while you sit here? 7 Why do you discourage the Israelites from crossing over into the land the Lord has given them? 14 “And here you are, a brood of sinners, standing in the place of your fathers and making the Lord even more angry with Israel. 15 If you turn away from following him, he will again leave all this people in the wilderness, and you will be the cause of their destruction.” 16 Then they came up to him and said, “We would like to build pens here for our livestock and cities for our women and children. 17 But we will arm ourselves for battle[a] and go ahead of the Israelites until we have brought them to their place. Meanwhile our women and children will live in fortified cities, for protection from the inhabitants of the land. 18 We will not return to our homes until each of the Israelites has received their inheritance. 19 We will not receive any inheritance with them on the other side of the Jordan, because our inheritance has come to us on the east side of the Jordan.”
5 - SPIRITUAL VICTORY TAKES COMMITMENT
16 Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”
The people have witnessed the power and judgement of God (all their ancestors are now dead due to their disobedience). They have listened to Moses and Joshua implore them on how they are supposed to live. The people respond in confidence and commitment to Joshua’s leadership. I love that they use the phrase, “be strong and courageous” in their response.
1) Make sure those you are watching and learning from are indeed good mentors.
2) Prepare yourself for future spiritual service using whatever opportunities arise now. Don’t wait to prepare until just the right circumstances arrive, the ones you prefer or are comfortable with. Serve God and others, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
3) In the war for your personal promised land, you don’t need the blessing of another person. You don’t have to wait for approval by another person. As a believer, you have all the authority you need. You have all the power you need (Holy Spirit). God commands you directly to take responsibility for your own life.
4) Don’t go about your spiritual warfare alone. Communicate with others, be organized, get people involved.
5) Don’t be afraid to challenge other people, encourage, hold them accountable spiritually.
6) Have the kind of strength and courage that God commands.
There are a lot of people who like to give the impression they are strong and courageous. They may even go so far as to quote Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through [a]Christ who strengthens me.”, but they really only believe in the first five words. People who are NOT strong and courageous form quick reactions based upon superficial information. They exaggerate, make blanket statements, and change the narrative to align with their weakness. They focus on the wrong things and for the wrong reasons. They boast about their strength and make up stories about opponents weakness. They don’t care to understand the root causes for problems around them. They do all this knowing that no other person is going to hold them accountable. However, people with real strength and courage “boast in their weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). In Joshua’s case, and the generation of Israelites in the book of Joshua, their strength was in their understanding that any success one has is because of God’s strength, not theirs. In other words, the best way to measure one’s strength is to look at how much humility he or she has (Philippians 2:1-15).
7) You will be victorious after being strong, courageous, and obedient.
“Give Us Your Courage” – Tim Hughes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBE4v8lVlfs)
Joshua Chapter 1
THE NECESSITY OF STRENGTH, COURAGE AND OBEDIENCE
1 – SPIRITUAL VICTORY TAKES A GOOD R_____________
C. Joshua had a m__________ (Numbers 11:28, 13:16).
D. Joshua had valuable e____________________ (Exodus 17:8-16, 24:13, Joshua 14:7, Numbers 13)
2 – SPIRITUAL VICTORY TAKES L___________________
E. Joshua becomes leader because the people n________ one (Numbers 27:15-23).
F. God appoints a person for the job who is q____________ (Numbers 27:18).
G. God makes sure everyone k__________ who the leader would be (Numbers 27:19-23).
H. God commissions Joshua d____________ (Deuteronomy 31:14-23).
3 - SPIRITUAL VICTORY TAKES S_______________ AND C_________________
F. Moses to Israelites (Deuteronomy 31:1-6)
G. Moses to Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:7-8)
H. God to Joshua
I. Joshua to the people (Joshua 10:22)
J. Strength and Courage is a c_____________ (Joshua 1:9)
4 – SPIRITUAL VICTORY TAKES T____________________
C. Joshua is organized, has a plan, and gets everyone i__________ (Joshua 1:10-11).
D. H_______ each other (Joshua 1:12-15, Numbers 32).
5 - SPIRITUAL VICTORY TAKES C_____________________ (JOSHUA 1:16-18)
SO WHAT – How does this apply to me?
8) Make sure those you are watching and learning from are indeed good mentors.
9) Prepare yourself for future spiritual service using whatever opportunities arise now. Don’t wait to prepare until just the right circumstances arrive, the ones you prefer or are comfortable with. Serve God and others, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
10) In the war for your personal promised land, you don’t need the blessing of another person. You don’t have to wait for approval by another person. As a believer, you have all the authority you need. You have all the power you need (Holy Spirit). God commands you directly to take responsibility for your own life.
11) Don’t go about your spiritual warfare alone. Communicate with others, be organized, get people involved.
12) Don’t be afraid to challenge other people, encourage them and hold them accountable spiritually.
13) Have the kind of strength and courage that God commands (Philippians 2:1-15, 4:13, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
14) You will be victorious after being strong, courageous, and obedient.